Meet Bryony Frost, the female jockey who outrides the men

Story highlights

  • Frost second female jockey to win a top-class Grade 1 race
  • 22-year-old is the daughter of Grand National winner Jimmy Frost

(CNN)Unknown a year ago, a female jockey who grew up surfing and racing ponies is being tipped to become one of the best of all time.

After clinching her first win at the Cheltenham Festival in March, as an amateur, 22-year-old Bryony Frost has taken the world of racing by storm, with no fewer than 30 winners since April 2017.
Having only turned professional last July, Frost became only the second female jockey to win a top-class Grade 1 race over obstacles when she triumphed on Black Corton in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
    Now she's hoping to ride in April's Grand National, the world's most famous jumps race and one of the toughest challenges in the sport. Her father, Jimmy, won on Little Polveir in 1989.
    "I cannot wait, the whole part of being a jockey is to ride in big races on fabulous horses, that's what we want to do," Frost told CNN by phone. "If you're a Formula One driver, you want to be in the best car. We want to be on the best horse, that's our job."
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    Jockey Club deal

    Frost's meteoric rise has turned her into a star in British racing circles.
    William Hill, the UK's biggest bookmaker, had Frost at odds of 25-1 in January to become champion jockey at any time in the next decade.
    And last month, she became the first group-wide ambassador for Jockey Club Racecourses, which stages horse racing events including the Cheltenham Festival in March and the Randox Health Grand National Festival in April.

    Paul Nicholls

    Growing up in Buckfastleigh, on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park in Devon, southwest England, Frost was riding the family donkey by the time she could walk and she was hunting on ponies from the age of four.
    She honed her riding skills in pony racing and became an amateur jockey at the age of 16, riding more than 55 winners in point-to-point races.
    "I was born into racing, as soon as I opened my eyes, there was a horse in it," said Frost, a keen surfer on Devon's coast line who also does regular mountain climbing sessions to stay fit.
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    "I saw the love that Dad had for it when he was riding, and my brother, and it just captured me. It's something about being a partner with your horse and wanting to do well for him that just (inspires) me to try and achieve the best (for) his career. That's what grabbed me."
    Frost ended up working in the yard of trainer Paul Nicholls in Ditcheat, Somerset after she got a call from his daughter, Megan, asking if she wanted to ride some of her pointers.

    Female jockeys

    Although women and men have been competing against each other for decades in equestrian sports like eventing, show jumping and dressage, there are still relatively few professional female jockeys.
    Frost's success over the past 12 months prompted a string of articles in the British media focusing on her gender but the 22-year-old has taken all the attention in her stride.
    "It's never been a goal to break history or things like that," she said.
    A recent study showed roughly one in 10 race jockeys with a professional license are women, with female jockeys taking only 5% of available rides.
    Frost celebrates on board Stobillee Sirocco after winning the Exeter Racecourse Clydesdale Stakes at Exeter Racecourse last year.
    But the study, conducted as part of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA at the University of Liverpool, said women jockeys are just as good as the men when it comes to riding racehorses, and found there was no difference between genders once the quality of horses was taken into account.
    "Racing is steeped in history and history creates opinions, it's as simple as that," Frost said, when asked why there is a perception that women aren't as good as men at racing horses. "But they're not facts, you don't need to listen to them."
    She added: "I wouldn't think of myself as any different, or having to take a step back because I am a girl."

    Grand National

    Nicholls, a trainer who has produced 115 Grade 1 winning horses including four Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, has been full of praise for Frost.
    "Horses run and jump for her and today is a great example of why we have a lot of faith in her," Nicholls told reporters after Frost won at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
    "If she is lucky and stays in one piece she will be as good as any girl who has ever ridden."
    Although Frost said she doesn't have an idol when it comes to riding, she is dreaming of stepping into the footsteps of her father, who won the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, six years before she was born.
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    "The Grand National is looming large, and it means a lot to me because of my dad," Frost said. "It's been wrapped in my world ever since I was a little girl, so its going to be cool.
    "I am going to be really looking forward to getting there and lining up and going on to that first [hurdle], and who knows what will happen?"